Cycling Safety - Transport Committee Contents

4  HGVs

34. There is evidence that heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are disproportionately involved in fatal collisions with cyclists: some 20% of cycling fatalities in the last five years involved HGVs, despite the vehicles only accounting for 5% of motor traffic.[88] This disproportionate effect was in even greater evidence in London, in which the vehicles were involved in 37% of cycling fatalities since 2009, despite accounting for just 3% of motor traffic on the roads.[89] Construction vehicles—particularly concrete or tipper lorries—were viewed as the most likely to be involved in such collisions. We heard that seven out of nine fatal collisions in London between cyclists and large good vehicles in 2011 involved construction vehicles.[90] The record varied between companies: while some, including CEMEX had adopted best practice around cycle safety, we heard that a minority of companies were "cutting corners" when it came to safety.[91]

35. We received a number of suggestions on how to reduce the number of collisions between HGVs and cyclists. One proposal was for the Bikeability scheme to include "the experience of sitting in an HGV cab so that cyclists can fully appreciate the extent of blind spots": as used in the Exchanging Place scheme.[92] Other suggestions focused on safety measures within HGV cabs, including mirrors and sensors. The "See Me, Save Me" campaign, was established by Kate Cairns, with the charity Roadpeace, after her sister Eilidh was killed in a collision with a HGV in London in 2009.[93] Ms Cairns argued that

     There is much that central government can do to improve cycling safety through legislation for better standards for HGVs, the vehicles that pose the greatest risk, and best practice driver training but also through stipulation and enforcement of such standards through contractual documents for publicly funded construction projects.[94]

Jerry McLaughlin of the Mineral Products Association, the trade association representing the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete and related industries, told us that in his view, the sensors and cameras inside cabs worked and were valued by drivers, adding:

    It may be secondary, but it does have some effect. In terms of giving a driver extra assistance, we think that either a camera or a sensor is really valuable.[95]

The Mayor of London's Vision for Cycling in London states that "no lorry should be allowed in London unless it is fitted with safety equipment to protect cyclists, and driven by someone fully trained in cycle awareness".[96]

36. Concerns were raised with us that the technology still had faults to the extent that street furniture and other vehicles could be picked up by the sensors, raising the possibility that drivers would learn to ignore the alerts emanating from the sensors. [97] Such a situation could result in cyclists being falsely reassured, as they would feel that the driver had been informed of their presence and would act accordingly, while the driver may not have taken notice of the alert, been overloaded with information or, as the Minister warned, even been distracted by the alert.[98] Christopher Snelling, Head of Urban Logistics and Regional Policy at the Freight Transport Association, cautioned us against the belief of "one magic fix" from technology that would solve the issue of HGVs and cycle safety.[99]

37. The Greater London Authority called for the EU to change directives 96/53/EC and 2007/38/EC which specify the mirrors required in a lorry's cab. The GLA stated that "this life-saving change" appeared to be "bogged down in Brussels".[100] The Freight Transport Association urged the Government to "promote the necessary reforms at EU level" to promote redesigning HGV cabs to improve visibility".[101] Since we took evidence, the European Parliament has approved these changes but they await ratification by the member states.[102]

38. Some witnesses argued that mirrors and sensors to HGVs would be less successful in reducing cyclist fatalities compared to separating cyclists and large vehicles.[103] The CTC told us that compared to driver carelessness "a far more important point is that the lorry itself is an inherently dangerous machine, whose design is simply not appropriate for urban streets".[104] There have been many calls for a ban on HGVs within cities for certain time periods: the insurance company Aviva suggested that such a measure could be explored in London.[105]

39. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) argued that a ban on HGVs in central London during peak hours "would be impractical, has no little, or no, international precedent and would lead to extra costs on business supply chains".[106] The LCCI added:

    Many HGVs are already barred from using the majority of central London roads between the hours of 9pm and 7am, Monday to Saturday, Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday under the London Lorry Control Scheme. Further restrictions on operating at peak hours (7am-10am and 4pm-9pm, for instance), extending to all HGVs would leave freight with only a 6-hour window with which to make all deliveries.[107]

Calls for bans on HGVs came from a "fundamental" misunderstanding of how integral the vehicles were for everyday life, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) told us. The FTA added that many accidents happened outside rush hour, and outside of city centres, but did agree that more could be "done to get some HGV movements shifted out of the peak periods when most cyclists are on the road".[108] Such a move was often prevented by regulations that banned HGVs at quieter periods.[109] As a medium-sized HGV carried the equivalent of ten vans' worth of freight, banning HGVs would, we heard, also lead to a substantial increase in smaller vans on the road, with an impact on congestion, safety and the environment.[110] There was also a danger that HGV and other drivers would assume that there would be no cyclists on the road outside of the "quiet hour" when HGVs were banned.[111] Jack Semple, Director of Policy at the Road Haulage Association, suggested that a ban on HGVs during certain time periods would add a minimum of 25% to 30% to haulage costs in London, with unproven benefit for road safety.[112]

40. Alternatives to a HGV ban were raised in the written evidence we received. The Greater London Authority pointed to the development of "quietways"—a "cross-London network of high-quality guided routes created on back streets, through parks and along canal towpaths for those who prefer to avoid the main roads".[113] These roads would have little or no HGV traffic.[114] We also heard from PIE Mapping, a London small business that has developed satellite navigation mapping systems to direct HGVs onto compliant routes around the capital, away from cycle routes at key times or in certain locations.[115]

41. Witnesses suggested that greater enforcement of current HGV regulations could improve safety on the roads. Christopher Snelling, Head of Urban Logistics and Regional Policy at the Freight Transport Association, reported evidence about London in particular, that HGV operators "not of the highest quality" were "overrepresented in the cycling casualty figures".[116] Mr Snelling argued that these operators should be removed from the roads, and welcomed the "increased and targeted" enforcement on the roads in the previous months.[117] The Minister echoed these views, and suggested that Vehicle and Operator Services Agency had previously "not been as active" in checking HGV vehicles for compliance in London, as it had been on the motorways, a situation which had now changed.[118] The Minister added that while the "vast majority of road haulage companies" had a responsible attitude towards road safety, there remained a need a "culture of safety across the industry".[119]

42. We are greatly concerned by the number of cyclists killed in collisions with HGVs. The disproportionate number of HGVs involved in collisions with cyclists demonstrates that the industry must improve its road safety record. We are particularly concerned by the number of construction vehicles, such as concrete and tipper lorries, involved in fatal collisions with cyclists, and the failure of some haulage companies to follow best practice around cycle safety.

43. We welcome the European Parliament's approval of changes to the design of HGV cabs to reduce drivers' blind spots. We call on the Government to ratify these changes which will improve safety for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

44. We are not persuaded that a ban on HGVs in town centres would be workable in practice. Instead, we endorse the Minister's call for a culture of safety for all HGV drivers and support the education of HGV drivers and cyclists about road safety.

45. We call on the freight industry to create a culture of safety among HGVs. We recommend the establishment of a timetable for the development of an industry-wide code of conduct, and a clear programme of work to promote the enforcement of HGV safety regulations. The effectiveness of these measures must be monitored, and demonstrated by a reduction in the proportion of cyclists' collisions involving HGVs, and by the number of cyclists injured or killed in collisions with HGVs. If such a reduction is not forthcoming once safety measures are implemented, we expect the Department to consider set out the steps it will take to ensure the safety of cyclists on our roads.

Volumetric mixers

46. We considered evidence on what the Minister described as the "loophole that needs closing" of volumetric mixers—vehicles that carry stone, sand, cement and water in compartments and mix the concrete when on site—which are classed as plant and not goods vehicles. The Minister stated that the Government needed to "take some action" on volumetric mixers, as the classification as plant meant they were exempt from a number of regulations in place for goods vehicles.[120] The Government is to bring forward consultation on changing the regulations to close the loophole around volumetric mixers: the Department clarified the legal status of the vehicles as below.

    […], our view is that volumetric concrete mixers fall within the definition of "goods vehicle" as defined in regulation 3 of the Construction and Use Regulations. We consider these vehicles do not satisfy all the requirements to be considered "engineering plant" so are goods vehicles for the purposes of Construction and Use and other legislation that is dependent on the Construction and Use definition.

    However, the definitions relating to exemptions contained in the Goods Vehicles (Plating & Testing) Regulations 1988 and the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995 are different, and case law has indicated that volumetric mixers can take advantage of the exemptions from these regulations in these cases.

    The broad effect of the two exemptions is that operators of exempted vehicles do not require an operator's licence and they are not required to subject the vehicles to annual roadworthiness inspection.[121]

47. The industry representative, Andrew Collins, disagreed with the Minister and argued against changing the regulations to include volumetric mixers.[122] Mr Collins was speaking for the Batched on Site Association, which represents the estimated 500-600 volumetric units operating in the UK, He told us that the vehicles were "not actually on the roads a lot", and suggested that the mixers spent 30% of their time on the road and 70% on site.[123] His colleague Tom Baker told us that questions about volumetric mixers were not part of the debate on cycling safety and had been brought up "to try to score a point", although he stepped back from suggestions that the Minister had raised the issue after lobbying by cyclists.[124] The Batched on Site Association stressed that there was no evidence that their vehicles had "contributed badly to cycle safety".[125] In follow-up written evidence the Association stated that the mixers were "subject to the majority of regulations other Heavy Goods Vehicles are subjected to".[126] The Association sought to emphasise again their belief that the regulating the vehicles would not "alter cyclist safety".[127]

48. The Department has confirmed that targeted vehicle inspections by the newly-formed Industrial Heavy Goods Vehicle Task Force unit had found that five out of six volumetric mixers stopped "received immediate prohibitions for mechanical defects".[128] In addition, three of the stopped vehicles "were also prohibited because of either overloading or an insecure load".[129] One such vehicle had some fifteen items listed on the prohibition: this included "no parking brakes, insecure body, [and] side-guards about to become detached".[130] The Batched on Site Association accepted that having prohibitions given to five out of six volumetric mixers was "not good enough"; although it argued in mitigation that the small sample size meant that "inferences about the entire sector [could not] be safely drawn".[131] The Department emphasised that the high non-compliance rate was the result of a targeted approach to inspections, but warned of a "tendency" for volumetric mixers to operate at weights in excess of regulations and the design weight of the chassis.[132] The Mineral Products Association warned us that a failure by the Government to act "to ensure that volumetric plant are regulated to LGV standards" would have "clear and adverse implications for road safety and in particular for the safety of vulnerable road users".[133]

49. We note the Batched on Site Association's argument that there is no evidence that volumetric mixers had contributed to cycle accidents. We do not, however, accept their argument that such vehicles should not be regulated as goods vehicles. By the Batched on Site Association's own evidence, the vehicles spend close to a third of their time on the roads, and should be regulated in the same manner as goods vehicles.

50. We welcome the Minister's commitment to closing the loophole around volumetric mixers and ask that the Department provides an update on progress, as part of their response to this Report.

88   Department For Transport (CYS0104Back

89   Department For Transport (CYS0104Back

90   Richard Armitage, David Hurdle, Adrian Lord and Alex Sully (CYS 128) Freight Transport Association (CYS 49) Back

91   Q 54 [Christopher Snelling] Back

92   Richard Armitage, David Hurdle, Adrian Lord and Alex Sully (CYS0128) para 53 Back

93   See Me Save Me (CYS 059) para 1.1, Roadpeace (CYS 56) para 4 Back

94   See Me Save Me (CYS 059) para 3.2 Back

95   Q 59 Back

96   Greater London Authority, The Mayor's Vision for Cycling in London, March 2013, p 20 Back

97   Q 60 Back

98   Q 59, Q 78 Back

99   Q 60 Back

100   Greater London Authority (CYS 60) Back

101   Freight Transport Association (CYS 49) para 19 Back

102   Commission proposal [  COM(2013)0195- C7-0102/2013-2013/0105(COD)] Back

103   Anthony Cartmell (CYS 42) para 3 Back

104   CTC (CYS 53) para 41 Back

105   Anoop Shah (CYS 18), Shirley And John Littlefair (CYS0125) para 6, Aviva (CYS 134) para 11 Back

106   London Chamber Of Commerce And Industry (CYS 27) para 5 Back

107   London Chamber Of Commerce And Industry (CYS 27) para 6 Back

108   Freight Transport Association (CYS 49) para 18 Back

109   Freight Transport Association (CYS 49) para 18 Back

110   Freight Transport Association (CYS 49) para 9 Back

111   John Trueman (CYS 93) para 15 Back

112   Q 55 Back

113   Greater London Authority (CYS 60) Back

114   Greater London Authority (CYS 60) Back

115   Freddie Talberg, CEO of PIE Mapping (CYS 26) Back

116   Q 54 Back

117   Q 54 Back

118   Q 92 Back

119   Q 98 Back

120   Q 107, Q 109 Back

121   Department For Transport (CYS 146) paras 4-6 Back

122   Q 187 Back

123   Q 188 Back

124   Qs 202, 204 Back

125   Q 208 Back

126   Batched On Site Association (CYS 150) para 3 Back

127   Batched On Site Association (CYS 148) para 7 Back

128   Department For Transport (CYS 146) para 16 Back

129   Department For Transport (CYS 146) para 16 Back

130   Department For Transport (CYS 146) para 16 Back

131   Batched On Site Association (CYS 151)  Back

132   Department For Transport (CYS 146) para16 Back

133   Mineral Products Association (CYS 48)  Back

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Prepared 18 July 2014